As the economy accelerates into rapid growth, the Republican Party finds itself awkwardly retreating from years of doomsaying into a pose of world-weariness. Sure, things have gotten better, they concede, but everybody knew it would happen. “Mitt Romney knew the day would come when a president would be able to swagger into the House Chamber and lay claim to a burgeoning economic recovery,” writes Jon Ward. His evidence for Romney’s prescience about the inevitable recovery is a statement the Republican candidate made:
“I wouldn’t be going after this job if I thought the future was bleak. I would not want to be president — be on watch if you will — as America goes over a cliff. I would not want to take this job and this responsibility if I didn’t think the future is going to be extraordinarily bright.”
Right, except Romney wasn’t predicting this would happen regardless of who won the 2012 election. He was predicting it would only happen if he won the election. (Ward does credit Obama’s policies, a bit, later in his story.) The whole Republican line was organized around the premise that the slowness of the recovery was not merely the inevitable outcome of a massive financial crisis but the tragically avoidable outcome of Obama’s failed economic agenda, which had made the problem worse. Here’s Mitt Romney’s speech at the Republican National Convention:
His policies have not helped create jobs. They’ve depressed them, and this I can tell you about where President Obama would take America. His plan to put taxes on small businesses won’t not add jobs. It will eliminate them. …
How confident was Romney that Obama’s job-killing policies would prevent the economy from recovering — 51 percent confident? 80 percent? No, he was 100 percent confident:
and his trillion dollar deficits, they slow our economy, restrain employment, and cause wages to stall. To the majority of Americans who now believe the future will not be better than the past, I can guarantee you this — if Barack Obama is reelected, you will be right.
Romney guaranteed the economy would get worse. The point here is not that the positive economic news proves that Obama’s economic policies have worked. The point is that the Republican analysis held, as a matter of metaphysical certainty, that the Obama economic program (stimulus, higher taxes on the rich, health care, clean energy, etc.) would make a strong recovery impossible. That analysis was wrong.